News 360

Published: Sunday 31 May 2009

Down to Earth
More than 1,200 mirrors surrounding a 165-metre tower in southern Spain have begun harnessing solar power. Unlike photovoltaic cells, the mirrors focus solar radiations onto a receiver at the top of the tower to boil water into steam. This drives a turbine and generates 20 megawatts, sufficient to supply 10,000 homes. Developer Abengoa Solar said this is the largest solar-tower power plant in the world; it will avert 12,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions that a fossil fuel-fired power plant would have produced.
Down to Earth A women's rights group, wilsa -Malawi, sued the government for preventing access to safe abortion. Malawi's law says the person who helps terminate pregnancy shall be jailed for 14 years and the patient will serve seven years of jail term.

Down to Earth Gambia set up a court to deal with environmental offences, especially littering. The move is to strengthen the anti-littering regulations introduced in 2007.

Down to Earth Shrinking wildlife reserves for land reform and poaching have driven 400 elephants out of Zimbabwe in recent months. They have crossed the Zambezi river and strayed into Zambia.

Down to Earth Burkina Faso faces the largest measles outbreak in a decade.At least 226 children have died and 19,000 infected from the disease since the start of the year, said the health ministry.

Down to Earth Saudi Arabia launched the world's largest desalination and power generation plant in the Eastern Province. The plant will supply 800 million litres of water daily to cities while generating 2,750 megawatts of electricity.

Down to Earth A Lebanese company has applied for licence to build 330-hectare artificial islands like the Palm Island in Dubai in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Lebanon.

Down to Earth Tropical storm Dante triggered flash floods and landslides in the eastern Philippines in early May, killing at least 20 people and displacing 50,000.

Down to Earth More than 80 fish varieties have either become extinct or are missing from Malaysia's waters, said President S M Idris. He blamed it on lack of effective policies on the conservation of marine resources.

Down to Earth Indonesia declared 3.5 million-hectare Sawu Sea as the national conservation area. The sea is an important habitat for 11 whale species. It aims to declare 10 million hectares of Indonesian waters as protected by 2010.

Down to Earth Russia's state-owned Sakhalin Energy has stopped oil and gas exploration activities in the waters off Sakhalin Island to allow endangered grey whales to breed. Only 130 grey whales are left in the world.

Down to Earth European Commission conceded its fishing policy is not working. About 90 per cent of the bloc's fish stocks are depleted and 30 per cent stocks will not be able to replenish, it said in a paper on the common fisheries policy reform, which will be adopted in 2012.

Down to Earth Venezuela plans to hike its petrol prices--unchanged for the last 13 years. The government said state oil company Petrleos de Venezuela is short of funds due to declining demand and falling prices.

Down to Earth Oil and gas companies in Latin America and the Caribbean urged the region's governments to maintain their investment targets in the sector despite a global economic meltdown. They warned a failure to do so could result in energy shortfalls over the next 10 years.

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Down to Earth More than 200 people fell sick in Ecuador's highland town Peguche apparently after drinking water contaminated with sewage. The provincial government suspended water supply until the cause is known.

Down to Earth Thousands of public employees in Puerto Rico protested against mass layoffs and a wage freeze approved by the government in a recently passed Fiscal State of Emergency law. The government plans to lay off 30,000 employees by July.

Down to Earth Brazil declared emergency in Maranhao state after flood s killed at least three and left 60,000 homeless.

Down to Earth California became the first American state to mandate carbon emissions cuts--10 per cent by 2020--from automotive fuels. The standard also calls for replacing 20 per cent of the fuel with alternative fuel by 2020.

Down to Earth Australia postponed its emissions trading scheme by a year until July 2011, citing the economic recession. The government said it may raise emissions cut targets to 25 per cent of 2000 levels by 2020, from 15 per cent now, depending on the post-Kyoto deal at Copenhagen, Denmark, in December.

Down to Earth Antarctica's Wilkins ice shelf has become unstable after an ice bridge holding two islands of the shelf collapsed in April. A 70,000-hectare ice shelf recently broke off and shattered.

Down to Earth Indigenous people from 80 countries met in Alaska to forge a common position on climate change. They wanted an official voice in the post-Kyoto negotiations at Copenhagen in Denmark in December.

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